Japan Post Co. will conduct a trial of self-driving delivery vehicles on public roads in Tokyo next week with an eye to introducing a fleet by 2020 to cope with driver shortages.
Ahead of the trial, the company held a ceremony at its headquarters in Tokyo on Wednesday and demonstrated a self-driving vehicle on a nearby public road.
Japan Post President Kunio Yokoyama said at the ceremony that the company has a "social responsibility" to offer delivery services in a sustainable manner. "The introduction of self-driving vehicles is a pressing agenda," he said.
In the trial, an autonomous vehicle will depart from the company's headquarters in the central Tokyo district of Kasumigaseki and drive about 2 kilometers to a post office in the Ginza neighborhood, stopping at another post office en route.
An employee will remain in the driver's seat to ensure the demonstration goes safely, Japan Post said.
The company aims to eventually use self-driving vehicles for deliveries between post offices. Companies developing automated driving technologies, such as Aisan Technology Co., are cooperating in the project.